My fertility journey is not typical. I had been on birth control for 10 years before trying to conceive, and it took about three to four months before I got pregnant. But then we lost the baby at eight weeks. I ended up having to go through a D&C at around 11 weeks. I was told this was fairly common and I should be able to start trying again in a couple of months.
Nothing about this felt common. I felt responsible. I felt like my body had failed me. And I had failed our baby.
Not a Mystery Case of Infertility
In the two years that followed, I spent the majority of my days obsessively researching how to create the perfect environment for my baby. I had all the charts, apps, ovulation kits, took all of my temperatures (iykyk), and tracked every single symptom.
I was willing to do anything it took to ensure my body wouldn’t let me down again, including seeing a fertility specialist. I was so fortunate to find a place like Fort Worth Fertility that treated my loss and my process with such care and understanding. The clinic ran every diagnostic lab possible, found that my husband was in perfect health (of course he was), and I was diagnosed with “unexplained infertility,” except it actually was explained by the fact that I just didn’t ovulate.
We went through five rounds of fertility treatments (ovulation induction and IUIs). I am not here to criticize any of these treatments, as I know they have helped so many couples conceive. But they didn’t work for us. And five rounds of treatment was -– forget the financial cost -– the most emotionally draining experience of my life. It required countless appointments, serious side effects, and a lot of disappointment. By the time we were done with the treatments, I was fully convinced that my body would never carry a child.
Stop Saying “Just Relax and Baby Will Come”
Besides hearing “you need to calm down,” from my spouse, I never knew that there could be another statement that could make me go from zero to 60 until I heard the words, “Just relax, and then you will get pregnant.”
While there is a lot to be said for how important it is to be in a parasympathetic state when you are trying to conceive, telling someone to relax is not only damaging the fragile emotional state but more important, it ignores the complicated biology of the many ways someone can come to be stressed.
I was probably born to be stressed. I check all of the boxes for an enneagram one. I am the firstborn in my family, a type-A overachiever. I graduated a year early from college, I went to law school, passed the bar exam, and choose to work high-stress jobs. So when I miscarried and couldn’t conceive, it made it easy to fall into the confirmation bias trap of blaming it all on the same traits that had made me successful in life so far. That’s hard and damaging to hear. But worst of all, it kept me from assessing other things that in the end had the greatest impact – like my diet.
Nourishing Body and Mind
Because of my busy schedule, I didn’t eat often, and when I did, I ate like toddler. Hot pockets, Twizzlers, donuts, the occasional Zinger or Zebra cake. . . . Oh, let’s not forget Gushers. Gosh, I love those things.
But what do stress and diet have to do with infertility? Well, shortly after we stopped the fertility treatments I found the Natural Fertility Blog and learned how the digestive system, the reproductive system, and our nervous system are linked. That in fact, your diet could be part of the reason that your body isn’t regulating your stress. It could even be making additional cortisol (not caused by YOU), which has an affect on ovulation.
Wow. An explanation that wasn’t rooted in shame and self-loathing (you should just relax). And one that included a plan I could implement. I started eating easily digestible foods every two to three hours to support my gut and my blood sugar. I worked with an incredible support team that was focused on my overall health: an acupuncturist, chiropractor, reiki practitioner.
I also started self-care routines like weekly restorative yoga, daily lymphatic dry brushing, removing unnecessary toxins, and monthly Epsom salt baths. Finally, I completed the Fertility Cleanse from the Natural Fertility Shop, which used herbs and supplements to support my body, and it allowed me to ovulate for the first time in two years.
It took a long time to learn to love and trust my body again to reduce stress. But, it only took one month of the fertility cleanse to get me to ovulate. It was the thing I had been trying to do and was told that my body couldn’t do without rounds and rounds of treatment.
Now, I have two beautiful boys. They are my rainbow and my sunshine. But guess what? I am still working on my parasympathetic state. (Hello two under two?!) I still have residual gut issues from not having treated my body with support and love and fully nourishing it. But as I take it one day at a time and continue to learn more about how my body works, I will be able to support it.
Natalia is originally from Mexico City. She has been married to her college sweetheart, Van, for almost 12 years. She has known her whole life that she wanted to be a mother. And after a long journey with infertility and high-risk pregnancies, she has finally found heaven on earth with her two miracle boys Barrett (2018) and Forrest (2020). With an undergraduate degree from TCU and J.D. from Texas A&M School of Law, Natalia works full-time as an admissions advisor at Texas A&M Law with a focus on first-generation and diverse students. Natalia enjoys traveling with her family (preferably somewhere with mountains), spending time outdoors, and reading to her boys in Spanish.